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Arfan Ikram



Arfan Ikram

Phone+31 (0)10 70 43930

Biographical Sketch

POSITION TITLE: Interim Chair Department of Epidemiology, professor of neuroepidemiology


Institution and location Degree Completion Date Field of Study
Erasmus University Medical Center MSc 2003 Medicine
Netherlands Institute for Health Sciences MSc 2003 Clinical Epidemiology
Erasmus University Medical Center MD 2005 Medicine
Erasmus University Medical Center PhD 2009 Neuro-epidemiology

Personal Statement

I am professor and head of neuro-epidemiologic research at the department of Epidemiology, Erasmus MC Rotterdam, the Netherlands. I also carry affiliations with the departments of Radiology and Neurology. I am principal investigator of neurologic diseases in the Rotterdam Study and principal investigator of the Rotterdam Scan Study. I am also a key collaborator in the CHARGE (Cohorts for Heart and Aging Research in Genomic Epidemiology) consortium. My research focuses on investigating the etiology of neurologic diseases in the elderly, with a particular focus on dementia, Alzheimer disease, stroke, and Parkinson disease. The main areas of research are to elucidate the earliest signs of brain diseases, before clinical symptoms are present, and to understand how these lead to clinical manifestation of disease. Moreover, I am interested in preclinical signs that can be used to identify persons at highest risk of developing disease. To this aim I have used data from the large population-based Rotterdam Study and Rotterdam Scan Study that have followed nearly 15,000 persons for a period of nearly 25 years. A main focus on my research has been the use of MRI-imaging to understand brain disease. Also, I have used neuropsychological testing, genome-wide, exome chip, DNA-methylation and sequencing technologies, and recently electronic gait assessments. Not only am I interested in how these pre-clinical markers lead to clinical disease, I also want to disentangle the intricate relationships between these markers. I have published over 280 international scientific papers (H-index = 40) and currently head a research group of 10 PhD-students, 3 post-docs, 3 MSc-students, and 5 research staff.

Positions and Honors

Positions and employment:

2016-present: Professor Neuroepidemiology depts Epidemiology, Radiology, Neurology / Interim Head Department of Epidemiology
2013-present: Associate professor, depts Epidemiology, Radiology, Neurology, Erasmus MC, the Netherlands.
2015: Visiting scientist, dept Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston (6 month visit).
2010-2013: Assistant professor, depts. Epidemiology, Radiology, Neurology, Erasmus MC, the Netherlands.
2012: Visiting faculty, dept Neurology, School of Medicine, UC Davis, Sacramento (3 months).
2009-2010: Resident in Radiology, dept Radiology, Erasmus MC, the Netherlands.
2009: Post-doctorate fellow, depts. Epidemiology, Radiology, Erasmus MC, the Netherlands.

2015: ERC Starting Grant from European Research Council.
2012: deLeon-Prize in NeuroImaging from the Alzheimer Association.
2011: PhD-prize at the Erasmus MC Rotterdam.
2011: Research Prize for most promising researcher at the Erasmus University and Erasmus MC Rotterdam.
2009: Awarded PhD-degree cum laude
2005: Awarded MD-degree cum laude

Contributions to Science

1. In 2012, I was one of the pioneers to combine the fields of genetics and imaging to identify novel genetic variants for brain disease. This resulted in me leading the MRI-working group in the CHARGE consortium. Results from this effort were published in four back-to-back papers in Nature Genetics in April 2012, which for the first time showed the power of imaging genetics to identify variants important for neurodegenerative diseases. This initial work has now expanded into a worldwide collaborating with >25 studies focused on imaging genetics.
Relevant papers:
a. Ikram et al. Nat Genet 2012
b. Bis et al. Nat Genet 2012
c. Stein et al. Nat Genet 2012
d. Taal et al. Nat Genet 2012
e. Hibar et al. Nature 2015
f. Verhaaren et al. Circ Cardiovasc Genet 2015

2. In 2012, I published the first report indicating that the incidence of dementia is declining over the last decades (Schrijvers et al. Neurology 2012) and that this decline is likely due to better control of cardiovascular risk factors. Subsequently, I have recently shown that the potential of prevention of dementia through better control of cardiovascular risk factors remains about 30%. This indicates that there is still plenty of room to further improve cardiovascular risk to reduce the burden of dementia.
Relevant papers:
a. Schrijvers et al. Neurology 2012
b. de Bruijn et al. BMC Medicine 2014
c. de Bruijn et al. BMC Medicine 2015

3. Ever since the advent of genome-wide association studies in 2007, I have been part of many consortia that have together discovered >150 variants for various neurologic diseases, including Alzheimer disease, vascular dementia, stroke, Parkinson disease, migraine.
Relevant papers:
a. Ikram et al. N Eng J Med 2009
b. Lambert et al. Nat Genet 2013
c. Nalls et al. Nat Genet 2014
d. Traylor et al. Lancet Neurol 2012
e. Antilla et al. Nat Genet 2013
f. Seshadri et al. JAMA 2010

Research Support

Current grants: >3.5M euros (listed grants are all as PI):
- International Parkinson Fonds – the epidemiology of Parkinson Disease. 2014-2017 (€150,000).
- Erasmus MC Fellowship – Transient Neurological Attacks. 2014-2018 (€400,000).
- CVON Dutch Hart Foundation – Heart Brain Connection. 2013-2018 (€460,000).
- Institute for scientific information on Coffee – the role of coffee consumption in dementia. 2013-2017 (€300,000).
- STW Perspective grant – ImaGene: imaging genetics to unravel the etiology of Alzheimer disease. 2013-2018 (€960,000).
- Internationale Stichting Alzheimer Onderzoek – the role of brain disconnectivity in dementia and cognitive decline. 2012-2013 (€100,000).
- Dutch Research Council (ZonMW) Veni-grant – Genome-wide analysis of structural MRI-markers as endophenotypes for Alzheimer’s disease . 2012-2016 (€250,000)
- Netherlands Heart Foundation-grant – Pre-stroke vascular pathology and post-stroke prognosis. 2013-2017 (€200,000)
- Alzheimer Association US – Gait dysfunction as a novel preclinical marker of dementia. 2014-2016 ($99,000)

Completed grants: >3M euros

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